Putting Pharmacology Education on the Map

In support of the 19th World Congress of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology (WCP2023), the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology Education Section (IUPHAR-Ed) developed an Education Satellite Meeting. The organising committee was led by Clare Guilding and Maggie Cunningham with support from Kirstin Engel at the British Pharmacological Society. The team secured a SULSA Network support grant and the event took place 1-2 July 2023 at University of Strathclyde in Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS). The IUPHAR-Ed Satellite meeting brought together over 100 educators from across the globe, sharing their ideas, expertise, resources, and innovations as part of a diverse programme. We even welcomed eager educators wanting to register on the day and join the sessions.

Photos: The international pharmacology educators representing their institutes in Glasgow.

The meeting started with a tribute to Professor Elizabeth (Liz) Davis from Monash University. Liz was Chair of IUPHAR-Ed from 2018 and would have been a lead organiser for the Satellite but sadly passed away in 2021. She is mourned by colleagues worldwide and in fitting tribute to her contribution to pharmacology education, the IUPHAR-Ed Section named the Elizabeth Davis Teaching Excellence Award in her honour, recognising outstanding educators making a sustained and significant contribution to education or training in pharmacology.

Photo: Professor Elizabeth (Liz) Davis
The team approach to the meeting organisation extended to the team approach to the delivery of the sessions. The two-day satellite meeting comprised of ten dedicated sessions with oral communications and panel sessions delivered by 29 educators. Active participation in the meeting was supported by five interactive workshops facilitated by 21 educators and poster communications on display and presented by 20 educators. The design of the meeting provided ample opportunities to meet and network with international colleagues, and engage in workshops, panel discussions, and oral presentations covering a broad range of pharmacology education topics. The scope of the meeting topics included:

  • Teaching new therapeutics
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Pharmacology Education - Practical Solutions
  • Curriculum design and assessments
  • Innovative education
  • Interprofessional education
  • Active learning strategies

Highlights from the conference include the fantastic welcome, organisation and catering from SIBPS, the diversity of presenters and presentations and the interactivity and engagement from presenters and audience alike (see Jorge Iniguez-Lluhi demonstrating concepts such as affinity and intrinsic efficacy using the props of a bell and ball!).

Photo:Pharmacology educators in action from networking during coffee breaks and poster session to discussions and questions during the oral communications, panel discussions and workshops.
Besides the organisation of meetings such as this satellite, IUPHAR-Ed coordinates two major pharmacology education initiatives: the Pharmacology Education Project, and the Core Concepts of Pharmacology Education Project. There were workshops on both initiatives, which are briefly described below.

1. The Pharmacology Education Project 

IUPHAR’s Pharmacology Education Project (PEP) is a free online learning resource. Its aims are to produce a simple, easily searchable educational resource for students (e.g., in pharmacology and other biomedical sciences such as medicine, nursing and pharmacy), and provide instructional materials for educators. It is hoped that the PEP will prove particularly useful for those in resource-poor countries or in locations where the discipline is currently less developed.

Established in April 2016, PEP now receives over 20,000 visits a month, with ~1.7 million user sessions since inception. Content is created and reviewed by an expert editorial board and welcomes contributions to any aspect of PEP that might be of value for learners.

2. The Core Concepts of Pharmacology Project

Launched in 2021, this ambitious project aims to transform pharmacology education by helping students and educators to focus on the knowledge that matters. To date, the project has produced a global consensus list of core concepts of pharmacology education and defined and unpacked these core concepts. Work is now underway to develop approaches to teaching and assessing these concepts within transformative concept-based curricula. To date, over 300 pharmacology educators from 22 countries across six continents have contributed to the project.

At each world congress satellite meeting, IUPHAR-Ed presents two awards. The newly titled IUPHAR-Ed Elizabeth Davis Teaching Excellence Award was presented to Professor Paul White, Deputy Dean and Associate Dean Education at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University. Paul presented work on his Faculty transition to active learning over the past decade, and his recent work to co-lead the Core Concepts of Pharmacology. The IUPHAR-Ed Outstanding Early Career Educator Award was presented to Dr Nilushi Karunaratne, an Early Career Academic at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (FPPS) at Monash University, Australia. Dr Karunaratne outlined Monash University's Skills Coaching Program, which fosters student empowerment, integrates authentic learning experiences, and enhances essential skills for a dynamic job market. The session provided insights on implementing this learner-centered program and empowering students to articulate and improve their skills.

Photo: Professor Clare Guilding (IUPHAR-Ed Chair) with Professor Paul White (left) and Dr Nilushi Karunaratne (right).
Scottish cuisine and delights were sampled across the weekend, with a constant supply of Tunnocks caramel wafers and teacakes (also to feature at the WCP2023 main conference!), irn bru, homemade tablet (courtesy of Kirsty Tinto) and the meeting dinner at the Scottish restaurant Ardnamurchan.

Photo: Delegates enjoying a taste of the Scottish cuisine at Ardnamurchan
The IUPHAR-Ed team are already looking towards WCP2026 to explore meetings and workshops we can run in the next few years. If you would like to receive information about Education activities run by the BPS and IUPHAR-Ed, please add your details to this form.


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Published: 06 Sep 2023
By Clare Guilding, Maggie Cunningham, Kirstin Engel

About the author

Clare Guilding, Maggie Cunningham, Kirstin Engel

The IUPHAR-Ed Satellite Meeting was co-organised by Clare Guilding (Newcastle University), Maggie Cunningham (University of Strathclyde), Kirstin Engel and Lee Page (British Pharmacological Society).  With generous funding from a Scottish University Life Science Alliance (SULSA) Network support award, we were able to host over 100 international pharmacology educators at Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS) in Glasgow in advance of the WCP2023 meeting.  

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